Mesmerizing NASA Video Captures a Solar Eclipse on Mars – CNET


Mars moon Phobos eclipses the sun as seen by NASA’s Perseverance rover.

NASA video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

This story is part of Welcome to Mars, our series exploring the red planet.

We get scenic solar eclipses here on Earth when our moon takes a round cookie-cutter bite out of the sun. On Mars, solar eclipses look lumpier. On Wednesday, NASA dropped an amazing video of the Martian moon Phobos eclipsing the sun.

Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos, and they’re both small and funky. Phobos is the larger of the two. It has a huge, distinctive impact crater and resembles a potato. 

The eclipse footage comes from the Perseverance rover’s Mastcam-Z camera. In a statement, NASA described the video as “the most zoomed-in, highest-frame-rate observation of a Phobos solar eclipse ever taken from the Martian surface.” The event took place on April 2 and lasted a mere 40 seconds.

The eclipse footage is mesmerizing to watch as Phobos appears as a silhouette moving in front of the orange orb of the sun. It’s more than a pretty picture. “These observations can help scientists better understand the moon’s orbit and how its gravity pulls on the Martian surface, ultimately shaping the red planet’s crust and mantle,” NASA said.

The rover’s Mastcam-Z is an upgrade over previous cameras that have been sent to Mars. It has a solar filter and is zoomable, a perfect combination for capturing an eclipse. “I knew it was going to be good, but I didn’t expect it to be this amazing,”  Mastcam-Z team member Rachel Howson of Malin Space Science Systems said.

Phobos is on a very slow path to collide with Mars millions of years into the future, but it can look forward to many more lovely eclipses before its date with destruction. 

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